World’s Largest On-Air Stair Climb Competition Taking Place in Seattle

LLS firefighter stair climb

Firefighters from 26 U.S. states and six countries will participate in this year’s LLS Firefighter Stairclimb – a fundraiser produced by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Washington/Alaska Chapter. Firefighters compete for time and dollars raised.

At 788 feet of vertical elevation, the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle stands as one of the tallest buildings west of the Mississippi and the tallest in Seattle. It takes 69 flights of stairs and 1,356 steps to reach the highly acclaimed Sky View Observatory offering a 360-degree view of the Emerald City. On March 10, 2019, 2,000 firefighters from across the United States and around the world will ascend the tower to support the mission of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and participate in the world’s largest on-air stair climb competition. Over the season, these inspirational men and women will raise funds for blood cancer research and patient services.

This consistently sold-out event is open solely to career or volunteer firefighters who complete this challenging course in full structural turnout gear, while on-air. Completing the climb is a physical triumph in itself, and is also symbolic of the strenuous journey that blood cancer patients endure. As firefighters race to the top, they keep in mind that every step forward represents moving toward finding cures for all those battling these terrible diseases. In 2018, this group of phenomenal climbers brought in a record $2.61 million. Now in its 28th year, this event has raised more than $17 million for cancer research and patient support.

DATE: Sunday, March 10, 2019

LOCATION: Columbia Center
701 5th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104

The first firefighter will enter the stairwell at 8:00 a.m., followed by the others at 12-second interval releases. A pre-climb opening ceremony kicks off the event at 7:30 a.m. The pre-climb ceremony is very moving and provides great audio and visual opportunities. The Survivor Battalion, comprised entirely of firefighters who are blood cancer survivors, enters the stairwell at 8:20 a.m.

The 2018 top male finisher was Steve Potratz-Lee of Pullman Fire Department, finishing in just under 11 minutes. The 2018 top female finisher was Georgia Daniels of Graham Fire, finishing in just over 15 minutes. The 2018 top fundraising department was Everett Fire Department, raising over $126,000. The 2018 top fundraiser was Mike Lande of Everett Fire Department, raising over $25,000 in honor of his daughter, a blood cancer survivor.

*Due to space limitations, spectators are not allowed inside the Columbia Center during the course of the competition. There is a spectator viewing area on the corner of 5th and Columbia. To gain access to the building, media must check in at the media desk located on the lobby level entrance off of 5th Avenue, between Columbia and Cherry streets.

The LLS Firefighter Stairclimb is a fundraising campaign unique to the Washington/Alaska Chapter. Each participant must raise a minimum of $300 to help further LLS’s mission to find a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life for patients and their families. To learn more, visit

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society ® (LLS) is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services to patients and their families.

Major LLS fundraising campaigns include Team In Training, Light The Night, Student Series, Man & Woman of the Year, and Leukemia Cup Regatta. To reach the widest possible audience, LLS partners with national and regional level companies and brands, including Nike, Disney, Burlington and others.

Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Rye Brook, New York, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada including the local Washington/Alaska chapter in Seattle, WA. To learn more, visit


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